Deceased individuals are sent to mortuaries or morgues, where their bodies are prepared for burial or cremation. These establishments are typically run by funeral directors or morticians. Mortuary assistants --- also known as morgue attendants or morgue assistants --- support morticians by performing basic administrative, clinical and operational tasks. To prepare for a mortuary career, aspiring morticians can complete a mortuary science program in college, or learn through formal apprenticeship. Mortuary assistants, depending on experience level and location, can earn nearly £32,500 per year.
According to a June 2011 Indeed.com report, the national average salary for mortuary assistants in the United States was £25,350 per year. Mortuary assistant jobs consist of organising, cleaning, preparing and laying out instruments prior to autopsies. These professionals clean, measure and position bodies on examination tables. They also place bodies in refrigerated compartments. Following postmortem exams, mortuary assistants wash and sanitise tables, and store tools for later use. Additional tasks include preparing preserving solutions, maintaining inventory and ordering supplies, and entering identification information into databases.
SalaryExpert.com showed that average salaries for morgue attendants ranged between £27,950 and £32,500 per year in certain metropolitan cities. For example, morgue attendants working in Houston averaged £28,592 per year. The average annual salary for professionals in Atlanta was £29,561 per year. Morgue attendants in Dallas reported an average salary of £30,965 annually. Morgue attendants in Chicago earned £32,141 per year, while professionals in Phoenix reported an average salary of £32,391 per year. The highest average salary was reported by New York City professionals at £32,461 annually.
Mortuary assistants will have the best advancement opportunities with large funeral home companies according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition." With further training and experience, mortuary assistants can transition to mortician or funeral director roles or start their businesses. Morticians received an average salary of £39,253 according to a May 2009 BLS report. Salaries ranged from as low as £19,955 to as high as £61,132 per year. Morticians with sufficient qualifications can also become managers of branch or regional offices.
Jobs for funeral directors are projected to increase 12 per cent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS, which is on par with the national average. A growing elderly population during this period will spur demand for mortuary services. Mortuary assistants will be needed to replace funeral directors and morticians retiring from or exiting the profession. In addition, mortuary assistants who posses college degrees and are willing to relocate to regions with high demand for funeral services should have the best career opportunities.